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Month: July 2016

RTW Trip Planning

RTW Trip Planning

How do you plan a year long trip? Great question and we are not quite sure if we know how either…although we have figured out a few things along the way!

One-Way Tickets

We bought one-way tickets to Taipei, Taiwan leaving on August 16, 2016!

Taipei, Taiwan - Phot Via: Inhabitant
Taipei, Taiwan. Photo Via: Inhabitat

We considered buying a RTW plane ticket, but there are so many rules and restrictions you have to follow. Since we did not want to plan our route completely before leaving and we wanted the freedom to change locations and dates on the fly, we decided to buy tickets as we went. Neither of us are known for being decisive so to make the decisions where to travel months before leaving was just too hard for us. Also, buying tickets as we go made it easier for us to travel overland where possible (which is something we are very excited about doing).

Why Asia First?

The first country (outside of a resort in Mexico) that I had ever traveled to was China in 2010. My dad was living/working for a year in Shanghai so my mom and I decided to meet him out there. It was a terrifying experience at first due to some serious culture shock, but over the course of the summer I spent there I fell completely in love with how different the culture was. I realized how small of a piece I am in the world and my perspective was changed for the better. China will forever hold a special place in my heart. Scott has never had the chance to visit this region of the world. All of these reasons made Asia an easy choice for our first stop on our ’round the world trip.

My parents and I on the Great Wall of China
My parents and I on the Great Wall of China in 2010.

When to Go

Our best friends were getting married at the end of June and we would have never missed it! I also wanted to be around for all the planning and fun leading up to them tying the knot so we knew we had to stick around until at least then.

Our lease was ending in April of 2016, but we figured we would sign another year-long lease. If you live in Denver then you know that the housing market is crazy and we were so sad to see our little rental house go. Scott’s sister and her fiance decided to move to Denver around the time we were thinking of taking off. They needed a place and we needed someone to sublease…our landlord was agreeable and we had a plan! They are taking care of our dog, Phloyd, while we are away so he doesn’t even have to move out.  

Do We Have Enough Money Saved?

We sure hope so! While traveling the world is cheaper than most people think it is definitely not free. Also, we would like to avoid moving into our parents basement upon our return (as nice as that sounds) so we also saved enough for  return fund. Daily choices over the last three years like cheap shampoo and packed lunches have really paid off and we are confident we have saved enough for one full year. If we end up going way over our daily budget in the first part of the trip then we will just come home a bit early!

RTW Route

The route for our RTW trip is a work in progress and will continue to be the whole trip. We are trying to take it slow and not overplan things. This is much easier said than done! While we both have different ideas of where we would like this trip to take us, we both have a desire to move slowly. Traveling slow costs much less than to be constantly moving from place to place, will give us a chance to get to know a place better, and hopefully let us avoid travel burnout. 

Travel days really wear on a person
Travel days can really wear on a person.

Less Expensive Locations

We are planning on spending most of our time in less expensive regions of the world. We would like to see our money stretch as long as possible and by avoiding expensive parts of the world we can do just that. One day we want to return to places like New Zealand and Western Europe, but for this trip we know that our daily budget is tight and accommodation alone in these places would run us over budget! We will be going to a few places that will be over our daily budget (looking at you Japan), but we are hoping that we can balance this with less expensive places.

Our Route

We are meeting friends and family along the way so those places are really the only concrete places we have. So without further delay here is what we have so far:

August – Taiwan

September – China (meeting my dad) & South Korea

October – Japan (meeting my parents) & Southeast Asia

November – Southeast Asia & Indonesia (meeting some of our friends)

December – India (hopefully meeting family), more Asia 

Janurary to April – South America

May to August – Central/Southern Europe (?)

After December things get more fuzzy…we are trying to keep things flexible and open at this point so we can adjust our itinerary based on how we are feeling, where we know people will be, and other travelers suggestions.

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Any suggestions? We have never planned a trip like this. We have never been to really any of these places. We would love your input! 

 

Off The Grid

Off The Grid

                              “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” – Paulo Coelho

 

001 (2)I quit my job today. It was a good job; I was paid well, I learned a lot, I worked with cool people on challenging problems, I grew as a person, as a software developer and, for the most part, I had the freedom to come into work and do whatever interested me. The perks were also first-rate. We took a yearly trip to Mexico. There were free meals at the restaurant downstairs and catered lunches every Wednesday. They paid for a cell phone, a gym membership, health insurance.  All in all, it was the best professional job I’ve ever had.

 

Admittedly, I’ve had gripes with my position, as most people do, but all of these benefits make it really hard for me to justify why I just did what I did. I did what I needed to do though and I hope that in a year’s time I can look back and say to myself that today was an inflection point – the first material step taken down a path decorated with experience that far outweighs the comfort of free lunches, a desk by a window and three days at a Mexican resort.

Over the past few months a unique situation had developed at work. Along with another co-worker, I had become a rogue software developer, straddling two, sometimes three departments, wearing many hats and answering the call of anyone with a problem not important enough to be prioritized by another engineering team yet still solvable by code. To some extent this role meant freedom from the rigid structure of a company trying to grow up. At the same time this role also carried a persona non grata vibe and it certainly seemed as if a mutual understanding had developed between myself and the people keeping me on the company roster that the corner I had carved out for myself needed resolution.

On some level it’s relieving to know that the actual conversation, the ‘quitting’, is over and done with. I’ve been wracked with anxiety for the past few days and nights over the thought of mustering the words “Hey, can I talk to you for a second” to my manager. I’m an anxious person in general but the idea of quitting a job without another lined up, that’s a solid recipe for a shitty nights sleep.

The conversation itself went better than I could have imagined. When I asked my manager if he had time to talk, he countered and asked if I was about to make him sad. It was as if he expected that this conversation was overdue, as if he knew that the aimless freedom I’d been extended over the past few months had reached a tipping point. I responded with an honest ‘maybe’, genuinely unsure if the ambiguity behind my current role with the company was an undue burden on those higher in the ranks than me and if the ensuing conversation would be a relief to both parties.

I laid out the course that Shelby and I had put in motion: we were headed out on the adventure of a lifetime – the better part of a year on the road – traveling to foreign places with little in the way of commitments. Plane tickets already booked. No turning back now. To my surprise, my boss responded with candor. “What you’re about to do, my wife did that before we were married. She traveled for nine months and it’s a big regret of mine that I haven’t done something like that. Of all the reasons I’ve heard for leaving a job, I’m happy this is what you’re telling me”, he said.

 I think he was relieved that he hadn’t failed as manager while succeeding at ushering me into the arms of another company. At the same time, I was relieved that ‘quitting’ wasn’t met with criticism. The coupling between one’s work and one’s identity or purpose has grown into this sort of truism in my mind over the past few years and bucking the social norm of the nine to five, even just for a year, seemed like it could only be met with disapproval. Maybe the candid response confirmed that he didn’t know what my future with the company looked like but I believe his response was that of genuine respect and excitement for us.

 

The weight of the anxiety I’d been carrying for the past few days lifted. Victory. Triumph. The long dreaded moment was over. But alas, the true reality has just started to sink in. No more pay check. No more health insurance. No more free lunches. No more job. Hell, prior to that moment, I could keep myself fed just by showing up to work but now that safety net is cut. Into the great wide open we go. Uncharted territory, for me at least.

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When Shelby quit her job a couple months ago, it seemed to come out of the blue. I think she had let the anxious feeling that I had become familiar with build up to a point where action was the only option. Part of me was struck with sheer admiration when she came home and dropped the bombshell of what she had done that day. Another part terrified that she had actually done it – we were going on this trip and suddenly it had become real with real life consequences.

 

Now, having followed her down the path of nine to five freedom, liberated from the burden of…a paycheck, I can only strap myself in and enjoy the ride. At the same time I can take comfort in knowing that the fear of losing what you already have is usually a stronger motivator for not taking a given action than the prospect of finding happiness is for actually taking action and finding what hides ahead, just out of sight.

I still have two more weeks of work left but I anticipate that they’ll fly by. There are loose ends to tie up, projects to document and knowledge that needs to be relinquished to my teammate who now leads a team of one.  Beyond being my co-worker, this particular individual is also a friend and I do feel genuinely guilty that my responsibilities now fall on him and that our weekly on-call rotation isn’t much of a rotation anymore. Hopefully it won’t be too rough on him.

There’s a mixed sense of excitement and disappointment after today. I had worked hard to put myself in a position where a spot on another engineering team was within reach. And while I think that I was close to getting the call up to the big leagues, I have to imagine that the life of a mercenary is more desirable to that of a infantry man. I had the freedom to accept and turn away projects on my own volition, something that wouldn’t have been a possibility as part of a larger team. I had the liberty to re-write the same five lines of code until they felt just right, as opposed to the get shit done approach that comes with commitments and deadlines.

Maybe this realization that I was on the verge of acquiring structure and a well defined role makes quitting oddly satisfying. Maybe quitting is actually what you do when you can’t take the stress of a situation anymore and leaving is the only option and maybe what I just did is simply moving on to the next cool thing in life, the next adventure. Jobs will come and go, perks can be negotiated, paychecks will be had again but time and experience are elusive. In the end, time is the only resource we can’t get more of and most people go through life trading their time for money. We’ve chosen, for the time being at least, a different path and underneath all of the mixed emotions that surround today, I feel confident that actions Shelby and I have taken – the course we’ve set in motion – emphasize the high regard that both time and experience are due yet rarely receive.

When someone joins the company that I just left, they get up in front of everyone at the weekly company meeting and they give an interesting fact – something for people to remember them by, a softball for the tenured employee to strike up that water cooler conversation about. I don’t recall what my interesting fact was two and a half years ago but I’m sure that the trip Shelby and I are about to embark on will leave me with no shortage of things to talk about should the situation ever arise in the future and that’s fucking exciting.

Two Month Notice

Two Month Notice

Recently I quit my job. I didn’t want to do it. Absolutely zero interest.

This was the thing that I was dreading the most.  I wish there was a way to stay gainfully employed at my company and travel the world all at the same time, but sadly this was not an option.

My 9 to 5 Gig

This job has been my first “real” job out of college.  I have been challenged daily over the past three years and have learned so much about civil engineering and myself.  My colleagues have become some of my closest friends and I have had the best mentors to look up to and to learn from. The community at my company is second to none. It really has been a great gig. I mean how many jobs let you look this cool all the time:

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Breaking the News

We bought our one-way tickets across the world…and I could no longer act like a normal person at work without them knowing my upcoming travel plans. After a few days I knew I had to break the news to my bosses.

I was incredibly nervous. I decided to put in a two month notice since I thought this would help my team to plan ahead and hire my replacement if needed. This can be a risky move as your company could just choose to let you go with the knowledge that you will be leaving. I was betting on the fact that my team would be open to the advance notice and keep me employed until just before we were planning on heading out! I was really counting on those last two paychecks 🙂 

I thought I was prepared. I read every article published on Google about the best way to quit your job. I envisioned me marching into my boss’ office and using all the tips I learned from the internet. What really happened was a hot mess. There was SO many tears. Regardless of all of this,  I had officially quit my job. There is no turning back now!

Now What?

Scott has to quit his job. His situation is not the same and a two month notice would most likely not go very well. He has to keep going for a couple of weeks before we can really tell the world we are hitting the road! Until then we are going to keep working, packing, planning, and trying to cross more things off our to-do list than we add.

Why Now?

Why Now?

A RTW trip has been a dream of ours for the past several years. It does seem slightly crazy (even to us) to leave our careers and “normal” life for an unconventional one, but it also seems crazy to look back on your life and have regrets. While there is never a great time to drop everything to travel for a year we think that there is no better time than right now. 

The Backstory

I (Shelby) always dreamed that I would teach abroad after college graduation. I had everything in place to do just that. I was terrified to go teach in a foreign country, but I was more terrified about losing the things that I would have to leave behind. Most importantly I was afraid of losing Scott. I know, I know…that was gag worthy, but stick with me on this. We had not been together for too long, but I did know that I would be stupid to not give it a fair shot. 

After my plans of teaching abroad fell through the both of us got to talking and we came up with this grand idea for a RTW trip. We would pinch our pennies for the next several years and travel and experience the world together! Experiences are best shared anyway 🙂 We got hitched in September and decided to follow our dreams of traveling soon there after. 

Photo Credit: KMitiska Photography
Photo Credit: KMitiska Photography

Commitments (or Lack Thereof)

We just got married! Shouldn’t we want to buy a house with a white picket fence, settle down, and have kids? Isn’t that is what the American Dream is all about? Of course these are things that we dream of having one day, but we are in no rush to get there. The lack of these commitments makes now a perfect time to go!

We do have some commitments. We have pets, a house full of stuff, a lease…the list goes on. We just have realized that the more time goes on the more commitments you have. We would like to take the opportunity to go while our list of obligations are at a minimum. Luckily we have some pretty great people in our life helping us with these commitments while we are gone and we are so thankful!

I cannot lie to you and tell you we won’t miss these two faces everyday:

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Phloyd
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Leo

Vacations

We will always travel. When we are gainfully employed once again and are given two weeks of vacation a year you better believe we will be using every last drop of it! Traveling with such a strict timeframe is really hard. We usually only have a long weekend. In order to make the most of your time it all has to be planned out…how many days in each city, which activities are you planning on doing, and how are you getting to and from each place? This is totally necessary to plan a kickass vacation. We usually try to see and do too much and always come back exhausted.

This trip however is different. We aren’t going to have everything planned out. At best we might have accommodations or travel to the next one or two locations prearranged. We want to take this opportunity to travel in a way that a vacation doesn’t allow whether that be volunteering along the way, taking the overnight train ride instead of a short flight, or just stopping somewhere because we are tired or simply because we found a place we fell in love with and we are not ready to leave.

Backpacking through Croatia on our honeymoon
Backpacking through Croatia on our honeymoon

The World is a Big Place

The world is a big place and our list of places we would like to see in our lifetime is really long. There is no way we can see the whole world or everywhere on our list (obviously), but this trip will allow us to experience many different things in a short amount of time while we are young and able. Life is unpredictable and I cannot tell you how our life will look years down the road.

As we get older the way we will experience places will change. We will be less excited about sleeping in a hostel in Cambodia lacking air conditioning and will become more interested in staying in a Tuscan villa. I mean we aren’t getting any younger…

The old married couple at the party
The old married couple at the party

All of our dreaming and planning will all be a reality August 2016. We are nervous, anxious, and SO incredibly excited!